How To Provide All Elements Needed For Improved Plant Performance
by Nathan Harman, Staff Consultant
May 3, 2016
NutraLive: The Best of AEA In Two Jugs
Most of you have a healthy skepticism of “snake oil” products touted as the only thing you'll ever need, or the one thing you've been missing. So do we! Since healthy plants and soils depend on dozens of minerals, thousands of distinct chemical reactions and trillions of microbes, it’s extraordinarily unlikely for one single input to be THE solution. The more we discover about bio-nutrient interactions, the more we learn that simplistic models of agricultural inputs just don't work for long-term sustainable food production.
Nature thrives on diversity, so when we set out to offer a one-size-fits-most product, the focus was on diversity and balance. The result is NutraLive, and it may or may not be right for you. Read the Who, What, Why, When, Where and How, and then decide for yourself.
We developed NutraLive for homestead gardens and diversified small farms in response to a demand by growers who had experienced success with AEA programs and wanted a simple, affordable blend to fit the smaller scale and style of their operations with the same quality and depth of our sometimes very detailed programs. It has been trialed by our own researchers and used on hundreds of gardens across the country. The positive feedback has been tremendous. And, as we’ve experimented with this new blend, we have found it to be an effective base for larger-scale cropping programs.
Who is NutraLive for? A farmer who wants a simple solution to plant nutrition without a lot of fuss.
NutraLive is comprised of two liquid blends, sold and used together, with distinct but related purposes:
NutraLive Growth is a suspension of macronutrients derived from whole natural rock minerals and marine fish sources. It provides balanced and bioavailable calcium, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium, along with sulfur (elements needed in higher concentrations to ensure ample root and shoot growth and to support photosynthesis).
NutraLive Vitality is a diverse and carefully measured solution of beneficial micro and trace nutrients, from antimony to zinc, along with plant and microbial stimulants such as kelp, seawater, humic and fulvic acids and carbohydrates. Vitality includes all the essential micros to support plants’ immune responses and a vastly enhanced microbial network. This is where the higher-order compounds that contribute to better flavor, quality and disease resistance reside.
NutraLive provides what? Every element needed for improved plant performance.
Smaller market farms, CSAs and especially homestead gardens have impressive diversities and successions of crops, but too little of any one planting to justify the time and expense of tailoring fertility programs to each crop.
Large commercial growers may spend decades tweaking inputs and techniques just to grow one or two crops really well. This is not an option for those who need a diverse, colorful array of produce all season long. Cabbage and peas, melons and peppers … they have different nutritional needs and different critical points of influence but may be growing side by side in a market garden. So we developed a product that could be widely applied across nearly all crops without causing undesired nutrient spikes or shortages, evening out and supporting other inputs. The goal was to provide a stable base of complete nutrition that would not only provide benefit, but also do no harm.
NutraLive why? Because you’ve already got enough going on.
Like people, plants have daily nutrient needs (once the seed reserves are used up). And, as with other organisms, a steady meal is preferable to feast or famine; feeding small amounts more frequently is best. A weekly foliar application and a weekly soil drench or drip fertigation of NutraLive is usually sufficient. NutraLive also serves as a soil primer when first working soil in the spring, as a row starter for seeds or as a transplanting mix.
When should you use NutraLive? Anytime a plant needs mineral nutrition (which is throughout its entire lifecycle).
NutraLive will in most cases be beneficial for all plants in all growing conditions. All of its ingredients are National Organic Program (NOP) compliant and safe to use, even around animals and children. However, both Growth and Vitality contain micronutrients whose use in organics are restricted based on documented deficiencies, so it may not be allowable for organic production in your particular situation. While many farmers, agronomists and certifiers are actively campaigning to allow higher rates of micronutrients and organic standards are beginning to change, it is best to talk to your organic certifier about its use on your crops. Otherwise, rest assured that unless you already have toxicity levels of particular elements, you will have no issues using NutraLive. It contains the full gamut of micros and traces because they are so critical to the success AEA has in diminishing pest and disease issues. The rates we blend will not correct severe soil deficiencies, but are perfect for feeding the plant and microbial community through multiple small doses during the growing season.
NutraLive is only part of a well-managed system. It won’t fix extreme deficiencies or excesses on your farm. Neither does it outright replace NPK fertilizer sources like manure, compost and/or dry fertilizers. It does not replace water, cover crops, cultivation or patience. It is not snake oil.
Where is NutraLive needed? On proactively managed soils that aren’t quite perfect.
Contact your consultant or the AEA office to order NutraLive, or order online to get started. If you’re growing on more than ¼ acre, consider a more customized program. If you’re organically certified and/or have recent soil or sap tests, AEA can provide further suggestions based on your data.
Growth and Vitality come as a set in individual containers. They are applied at different concentrations and volumes depending on crop type and plant stage, so the grower has options to customize, based on crop need, without mixing 5 or 10 different ingredients.
As for equipment, a simple handheld or backpack sprayer is perfect for foliar feeding and a watering can will suffice for soil drench and side-dressing needs if fertigation lines are not available. It’s extremely important to have a quality water source to use with NutraLive (and all fertility or chemical products mixed in water). If you aren’t using a public water source and you don’t have a water test, at least take pH readings and use an acidifying agent (vinegar, citric acid, etc.) to adjust your water source to a pH between 5 and 6.5 before mixing in NutraLive.
NutraLive runs a delicate balance between being alive and being shelf stable. When your material arrives, there may be swelling in the jugs, especially the Growth. This is normal. When you receive shipment, vent the caps (not on the kitchen table) to relieve pressure and clean out the lid whose vent hole will have been covered over by the motion of shipping. Store in cool, dry and dark conditions and use the product up in the course of one season.
How do you use NutraLive? In small, regular applications to plants and soils, according to instructions, and with a smile on your face. 😃